March 15, 2011

Gratitude Attitude

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:04 am by autismmommytherapist

Today’s Gratitude Attitude goes once again to the “Divine Miss M”, for our last session at the movies this weekend, which had spectacular results (post on this to come!). Thank you Miss M, and we look forward to seeing you again this summer!

(And a special note of gratitude to my mom for giving birth to me on this date forty-four years ago, during a blizzard in Rhode Island. Clearly, I appreciate it mom, and thanks!)

January 23, 2011

We Are Family

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged , , , , at 11:10 am by autismmommytherapist

“Come on Justin, run!” Zachary yells to his lagging older brother, the one captivated by the swirling cadence of the electronic flashes darting across the screen of his favorite video machine. Justin and I rush to catch up with my youngest, his father, and our BCBA as they purchase one game of bowling and rent the requisite soft shoes for the outing, and we make it in time for Justin to grab his pair for himself. We are assigned a lane at one end of the alley, fortunately far away from the other early morning families and couples immersed in the cacophony of brightly colored orbs crashing into their intended targets. Justin seems exuberant, which is somewhat of a necessary prerequisite for this outing to be successful, has been grinning ear to ear since we pulled into the parking lot. So far, the outlook for the first collective McCafferty clan activity in an eternity, looks favorable.

In many respects over the last few years we’ve had separate families, me generally ushering Justin out of the house on weekends, his father staying behind to care for Zach. In part this has been due to Zach’s nap schedule, which I’ve followed religiously because he is the first of my offspring to actually take one without screaming about the concept for an entire hour prior. The second reason is that on weekend afternoons Justin is often pulling me toward the front door with his shoes in hand well before I’ve even dispensed with the lunch dishes. Since this event always coincided with Zach’s naptime, the situation hasn’t boded well for all of us to exit the house together. Couple that with the fact that my eldest wants to ditch every place we go in the same amount of time it takes me to get a manicure, and you can see why our trips have been so infrequent.

Today, I’m hoping that will change.

For me, this is the culmination of the real reason I’ve been taking Justin here every week to meet the divine Miss M. Sure, I like getting him out of the house on a weekday once in a while, and I’d prefer him to find a pastime other than video games and animation to engage his mind. I’m also excited he seems to like the bowling as much as the horseback riding because it’s something he can do when he’s old, when I’m no longer around to schlep him places. Hell, if required, his caregivers could even wheel him up to the lane and help him roll his ball off his lap if they had to. In theory, he could play this game for life.

I know. I’m supposed to be trying to live in the moment. Someday, I’ll get there.

All of the aforementioned reasons are valid, but the one that is really crucial to me, that keeps me up at night with all the other worries swirling around my overtired brain, is this:  as a family, we can’t continue to live every aspect of our lives on separate trajectories. At the moment, restaurants are out due to Zach’s GF/CF diet. A beach excursion lasts seventeen minutes before Justin is trudging up the sand to his fancy stroller, looking back over his shoulder to see if any of his family members is bright enough to realize he’s ready for his fudge fix. You already know what happens at the movies. Frankly, to my continual dismay, there just aren’t that many activities Justin enjoys. This, coupled with the four-year-age difference, has made getting all of us out into the community together about as simple as a task as convincing me not to open the second box of Girl Scout cookies in our freezer within a twenty-four hour time period.

Hell, I made it all the way through to cadets. I figure it will be my God-given right to eat them all.

Finally, the five of us make it to our assigned lane without either losing a child or a diaper bag, and Miss M carefully types Justin and Zachary’s names into the waiting blank screen. We’ve convinced my youngest to let his older brother go first, because his previous attempt at turn-taking here was not met with a great deal of enthusiasm, and I still want Justin to enjoy bowling even if Zach will conclude each frame for him. Thankfully, I have remembered to place the timer we’ve used before within easy reach in Justin’s large personal bag. Miss M has whipped out a lanyard with white beads, an item which looks like something I made at camp in 1977, but in reality is a device to help Justin understand how many frames he must bowl until the game is concluded. We’ve already used our “photo array”, which consists of a sentence strip with a variety of snapshots attached by Velcro, which in prior sessions has helped Justin understand the sequence of events in our afternoons. We are, as those devilish Girl Scouts say, prepared.

I am already tired.

We procure the lightest equipment we can find for the boys, and Justin, old pro that he is, heads without any prompting at all to his familiar yellow friend, holds it securely in his arms, and releases it down the silver ramp to its intended destiny. Zach cheers his brother on, and I watch in wonder as Justin sidles up to his father, grabs his hand, looks up into his face, then looks back at his ball hurtling down the slick lane. Without words, with only a simple gesture and glance, he just as clearly said, “Daddy, look what I can do”.

Even if we weren’t having fun, my son demonstrated joint attention with one of his parents. The trip was worth it for that moment alone.

The rest of the game proceeds without issues, Zach lustily crying “Yippee!” even if the bowling balls touch nothing but air, Justin joyously jumping up and down with each release. The boys were happy to be there. Miss M was thrilled with Justin’s compliance and eager enthusiasm not only for each of his turns, but for his brother’s as well. Jeff and I were happy to be anywhere but home.

We were having fun. Just like any other family.

I know, it sounds like the simplest of mornings, an adventure at a bowling alley, two boys playing a game together, and rooting each other on in their own respective ways. But this is just one more tiny example of the scales of happiness finally weighing in our favor, one more item on those round disks pushing us over the edge to contentment. Justin’s crush. Zachary’s role play. My eldest gently touching his brother’s face in the bathtub as his younger sibling tries to tickle him. Justin possessing both the motivation, and the ability to execute, sharing joy with his father.

Simple little things, yes. And to our family, miracles all the same.

January 19, 2011

A League of His Own

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:13 pm by autismmommytherapist

I don’t wallow well.

Sure, there were moments of despair after Lost went off the air (they were dead most of the season, HOW COULD I NOT HAVE KNOWN???). I still haven’t gotten over Shakespeare in Love stealing the Academy Award from Saving Private Ryan (the Weinsteins’ campaign ROBBED you Steven Spielberg, for shame, FOR SHAME!!!). I’ll never understand why Kris Allen beat the fabulous Adam Lambert for the American Idol title in season eight, but I’ve been able to reconcile myself to that finale with the knowledge that coming in second has probably been beneficial to his career. Despite the tragic nature of these outcomes, I’ve tried my best to put all these losses behind me, and move on with my life.

After all, I have children. I owe it to them.

I admit, I had to remind myself just how strong I’ve been over the years, particularly following the “Justin after-care debacle”. I’d spent roughly half my free time putting this opportunity together for him for the better part of the fall, and I’d had a great deal of hope that some kind of peer relationship would eventually result from it for my eldest son. When it became apparent after the first day this activity wasn’t going to work for Justin (the half hour of sobbing prior to my arrival to pick him up was a dead giveaway), I will share that I was fairly upset for a few days. Frankly, there aren’t a whole lot of options for friendship for moderately autistic youth (google it, I dare you), and I had invested myself emotionally in the potential for a positive outcome.

Finally, later in the week, after a few long hours sulking on my couch, I eventually came up with a plan. It wouldn’t involve interaction with neurotypical peers, but it would place him around other children, and the central tenet of the event revolved around something Justin had come to enjoy. Plus, it would get me out of the house, where I might actually engage in conversations with people outside of the realm of cyberspace. I know. I have wild, extravagant dreams.

It was clear to me what the solution would be. Justin would be joining our local special needs bowling league.

I should preface this statement with letting you know that unlike the after-care program, I had absolutely no expectations going into this Saturday morning activity. This particular league is open to children and adults with a wide range of disabilities, some of whom I’d witnessed at other events, many of whom appeared much more evolved at taking turns and waiting patiently than my son. He’s made vast improvements in this area over the years (mostly due to having to share with his younger brother, not to any brilliant interventions on my part), but he still has a long way to go. I knew this was a popular activity amongst the disabled crowd, but since there were a lot of lanes at this particular venue I was hopeful he’d only have to share his with one other child at best. I figured we could at least pull one entire game off after all the wonderful experiences we’d had with the fabulous Miss M.

We arrived just in time, and I almost had to body block Justin to get him to stay still long enough for me to collect his felt foot apparel. It was obvious where we needed to go, as I looked down the length of the alley and saw a few dozen children and parents congregating around what looked like only two lanes. I swooped up Justin’s shoes and we received our lane assignment, and I subsequently realized how much I require lasix surgery as it became clear the league had commanded a half-dozen of them. We trudged over, boy and goody bag securely in my hands, and I was fortunately able to find him an empty swivel chair. I introduced us to the nearest parent, and glanced up at the electronic board regaling us with its list of participants.

On this lane alone, there were six. I was relieved I’d remembered to bring Tylenol.

To Justin’s credit, he did as well as humanly possible. I plied him with snacks and favored DVDs as he waited his turn fairly patiently, only slipping his shoes off once during the course of the game. I even managed to converse for three minutes with a lovely woman whose sons were so mildly autistic their form of the disorder bore absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the subtype my son possesses (and they were FABULOUS at waiting). We made it through the majority of the game, but I could sense my son’s angst building, and I’ve resolved never to leave an activity on a bad note, thus reinforcing the connection between whining and exiting.

Just call it my life’s work.

We packed up to leave, and I had to fend off the protests of the kind woman I’d met who was dismayed when I told her we wouldn’t be returning, as she pointed out that Justin had really done well. He had, and I thanked her for the compliment, but that wasn’t the point. The truth was, he hadn’t had a good time, and as much as I enjoy meeting new people, this wasn’t (sadly) supposed to be about me. It turns out that bowling is one of three activities outside of movies and computer games that seem to entertain my child, and it simply has to remain fun for him. Despite the opportunity to talk to someone other than my husband, and perhaps score some sour cream and onion potato chips from the vending machine, this is not the correct venue for him to participate in this activity.

We exited the alley, Justin thrilled to be on the move, and me saying goodbye to a number of wonderful people in our community I’ve had the good fortune to come to know. He was bouncing up and down for joy, and for once my mind was clear, already on to the next event, which would be how to keep the moderately autistic child happily occupied until we left for his horseback riding lesson in the afternoon. I realized I wasn’t the slightest bit depressed about our “failure”, and that I’d already come up with a slight adaptation on this theme. We’d be coming back here as a family, claiming one entire lane as our own uncharted territory, with my boys taking turns and hopefully, in their own ways, cheering each other on to victory. I slipped Justin into his harness, settled myself into my frigid front seat, and smiled as I turned the ignition key, because once again I had a plan.

And although Jerry Seinfeld says “there’s no such thing as family fun”, we’re going to give it a try.

December 12, 2010

Lord of the Pins

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged , , , , at 8:54 pm by autismmommytherapist

It’s part three of Lord of the Pins today, and I pinky swear that this will be the last installment, but what happened this week was just so huge, so monumental to our family, I simply had to write about it once more. We had our second outing at our local lanes, and with one small adjustment to our activity, one seemingly trivial nuance tweaked, everything changed. I’m not sure whether the biggest miracle is that I remembered to inquire as to whether the establishment had a “ball ramp” for its physically challenged players, or if it was Justin’s reaction to the additional equipment. I’ll tell you this though, my boy loves bowling now, barely needed the generally requisite reinforcers to get him to stay through the entire event, and reacted to the timer in a fashion that would have made any ABA practitioner proud.

And I have a sore ass and the pictures to prove it.

This time I had the pleasure of entering our neighborhood bowling alley well-rested and healthy, eager to be a little more hands-on with Justin, as I was certain we’d need to “work” this afternoon nearly as much as we had the previous week. This time “Miss M” came prepared with a pictorial activity schedule comprised of photos snapped at our previous session, so Justin had been “prepped” to understand the cycle of events: bowling, video, snack, bathroom, and exit. I’ve done something more basic with him in the past (trust me, I’ve gotten some interesting looks capturing precious moments in mall bathrooms over the years), and I’ve never really been certain how much Justin understood of where we were going, or if the advance notice really helped. I hoped, since he is generally compliant, that prior notice of what was about to take place might alleviate the crankiness about the entire endeavor, that acceptance about the unfolding afternoon might just facilitate a bit more fun for him.

A girl can dream.

We set up in the same lane we’d been given the week before, and within a minute the proprietor had been true to his word and delivered the silver device that would hopefully expedite our ball du jour’s travels, and thus elicit a bit more enthusiasm from our boy. After mentally congratulating myself for not only having the idea but retaining it for AN ENTIRE WEEK we found the appropriate ball for Justin, angled our contraption to try to ensure success, and faded our commands to gestural prompts in an attempt to get my son started. For a brief moment he simply looked at the metallic obstruction and smiled, and I SWEAR he remembered using one at that birthday party years ago. An entire herd of elephants has nothing on Justin’s ability to recall.

I try not to be jealous of my own offspring.

He quickly retrieved his purple friend from the waiting conveyor belt, placed his prize on top of the ramp, and shoved that ball with all his strength with a mighty and enthusiastic “EEEEE!” that filled the confines of the alley with its glee. After “Miss M” removed herself from the photo opp I joyfully slid over to the next lane, forgetting momentarily that the bridge between was the only secure spot for bowling matrons, and promptly landed squarely on two body parts whose heroic sacrifice saved my wrist from serious injury. I stayed down for a moment while I physically regrouped, and was actually able to get a great angle as Justin was eager to finish the frame and was completely ignoring his clutzy, semi-incapacited mother.

Yes, I got some shots. Yes, I’ll share them. And no, there’s none of me on my backside. I’m trying to regain the last vestiges of my pride, cut me some slack.

The upshot is, Justin made it through eight of the ten frames without a peep of protest. When he did eventually complain he had no issue being redirected to the table for his favorite movie scenes, even referencing the timer on occasion to see what amount of his leisure activity was left to him. He completed the last remnants of the game relatively passively, was excited to see the bowling photo shorn of its Velcro attachment on the strip and replaced with representations of those appealing vending machines. He sweetly sat back down after an attempted escape when we showed him the timer had not yet been reduced to white, and he happily accompanied me both to the bathroom and the car. We ended up spending an extra twenty minutes at the establishment due to his willingness to follow the new rules, but the greatest accomplishment that day had nothing to do with mere compliance. Yes, he stayed, and yes he listened to his mommy.

But this time, he actually enjoyed it.

As I’ve mentioned before I’m a planner (my close friends and family are collectively laughing at this understatement of the decade), and I’m constantly trying to think of activities that Justin will actually like rather than simply endure because it’s been requested of him. I’m also always hopeful I’ll discover things my son will be able to do when he’s older, when I might not be around to assist him. My grandfather was an amazing bowler well into his eighties, and hopefully those genes (as well as a multitude of others) have skipped a few generations and are firmly entrenched in my boy’s DNA mosaic. I like to think I can broaden Justin’s “fun repertoire” further than overpriced pretzels, musical stuffed animals, and movies from Pixar before I go.

But there’s another imperative here, one I know is equally important to increasing Justin’s tolerance of outings, and it’s this. There are a multitude of things I took for granted before his birth that I now know he won’t participate in, and I like to imagine I’ve done a pretty good job at accepting the situation (never liking it, but yes, accepting it). I am well aware that to retain a sliver of my prior sanity I need to learn to let go, and I try, I really do.

But I’m not ready to let go of this dream, the desire for true inclusion within the confines of my own family’s story. I’m not ready to embrace a future that only includes half of us every time we leave the house, or requires two vehicles for attendance. I’m not at peace with my youngest only having memories of his older brother’s cantankerousness on outings, not comfortable with no opportunity for our entire clan to just revel in being together. At this juncture, I am simply too stubborn to accept defeat.

And the joy of it is, perhaps with a little conditioning, a few new rules, and the wisdom of our “divine Miss M”, my wish might be granted after all.

December 9, 2010

Pins and Needles

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged , , , , , at 9:07 pm by autismmommytherapist

We made it to one of our local bowling alleys this week with time to spare (remember, I only promised to avoid the “striking out” jokes, so no complaints), with Justin simply thrilled to be going anywhere, even if he was confused as to why “Miss M” was accompanying us. I was in the throes of my thrice yearly bout of bronchitis (I am fond of saying I will one day drown in my own fluids), so was particularly grateful to have help accompany me on this outing. I wasn’t really up to dragging my sixty-plus pound boy around a bowling alley, and I was certain part of this adventure would become physical. Even six months of P90X is not adequate preparation when confronted with my child’s desire to leave the premises.

After a short drive in which I managed neither to get lost nor cut off by any of my Jersey comrades, we finally pulled into the almost vacant parking lot. “Miss M” commented on the fact that we’d probably have the place to ourselves, so no matter how Justin reacted to our plan, it wouldn’t matter. I gently assured her that even if it was a full house and it took both of us sitting on him to make him stay longer than ten minutes, I was game. I’ve long since gotten past the “staring” that occasionally occurs when we’re out in public, generally return the looks with a smile I find more times than not is eventually mirrored. I feel there is so much hanging in the balance here, as I’d like to continue doing things together as a family outside of our home for more than half an hour, and I could care less who witnesses what we have to do to achieve this goal.

Hell, whether or not you have a child with any type of disability, try to give yourself the present of not giving a damn what other people think. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.

“Miss M” and I break into a run as Justin briefly slips my grasp in the parking lot and rushes toward the door, and we smile at each other in the knowledge that at least Justin is initially eager to try this activity, knowing that attitude will help this scenario immeasurably. After a brief skirmish in which we convince my eldest child that he does indeed have to wear his fancy bowling shoes, we are soon set up in our very own bumpered lane, and outfitted with a ball commensurate with Justin’s hand size and weight. We have come prepared with a timer and rewards, snacks, videos, and a DVD player that (in theory) should be extremely reinforcing to him seeing as how they’ve been withheld for days (a time period which seemed to his mother to last for decades). I am confident that after a mere few frames, no matter how successfully conducted, my boy will be eager to raid the vending machines and leave. Hopefully, these enticing items will encourage him to stay and finish one entire game of bowling without a full-out tantrum.

“Miss M” drops our gear and digs right in, taking Justin firmly by the hand and leading him to his waiting purple sphere, encouraging him to put his entire body into the two-handed push that sends his ball spiraling on its intended collision course. I notice my boy is smiling, has perhaps recalled his one prior attempt at this game, and is at this moment happily enmeshed in the semi-novelty of the experience. He watches quizzically as his mother and this relative stranger dance up and down gleefully when he knocks out three pins, and is fairly compliant when our BCBA du jour reroutes him from an attempted escape and returns him to the machine preparing to regurgitate his equipment. We’re only seven minutes in. I figure I have about ten left before this turns ugly.

As I thought, I am correct.

Three frames in (one more than I predicted, perhaps I’ve made some headway with him this fall after all), his majesty is clearly finished with this activity. He grabs my hand while simultaneously attempting to balance on one foot and shed his velcroed footwear, then heads for the exit, grabbing his trusty “goody bag” on the way to freedom. Out of the corner of my eye I see “Miss M” swoop in, grab my child and bag and redeposit him and each item in their prior positions, then place my son’s extremely reluctant hands back on his waiting orb to attempt frame four.

If there’s ever a Bowling With the Stars, I doubt we’ll be tapped for it.

This time after releasing his ball to its destiny our BCBA diverts him back to the table with its promise of food and film, and Justin is momentarily diverted from his desire to leave (although OF COURSE his favorite DVD decides to mutiny on me). “Miss M” offers him the snack he’d usually trample me to gain access to, which of course he refuses, and I’m guessing it’s because he’s already seen the snack machines with their seductive allure of virgin carbohydrate territory. Instead, he’s somewhat placated by a second tier movie, and our autism expert also makes sure he sees the timer with its red block of unspent minutes, ascertains that Justin marks its passage as it winnows down to white.

When we reach zero, we three move forward to another frame, and continue this dance until we make it through to ten. “Miss M” is unfailingly cheerful until the bitter end, through my son’s verbal protests (just because he can’t talk does NOT mean he can’t show us how pissed he is), his artful escape attempts (he made one move any NBA player would be proud to adopt), and his all-around general crankiness. At the conclusion of our game she remains full of energy, positive in the progress we made as we reward our boy with his coveted assault on the snack machines.

I, while mentally encouraged, find my body silently begging for Nyquil.

After Justin inhales his snacks (yes, we treated him to two, he lasted forty-five minutes somewhere outside of his home, it’s his equivalent of a parade), we show him the colorless timer once more, tell him it’s time to leave, and escort him to the door. Through my congested haze I’m hopeful on the short trip home, willing to entertain the thought that perhaps we can teach my boy to remain places for longer times, condition him to enjoy more events. Achieving this goal is crucial to me, the same way encouraging him to sleep through the night (Amen!), ride in a car without protest, and use his communicative device rather than his fingernails to get his needs met, have all been of significant importance in the past. With the holidays looming I know we’ll have ample opportunity to try out our behavior plan, particularly at Christmas when we invade my sister-in-law’s home and take turns monitoring Justin. Perhaps this year we’ll make it through the appetizers (and only one glass of wine for mommy), and actually enjoy ourselves. I’ll keep you informed as to how it goes.

I’m just glad that prior to giving birth, I didn’t know that having fun with my kid would be so much work.

December 7, 2010


Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged , , , , , , at 9:07 pm by autismmommytherapist

Rip. Yell. Repair.

That’s pretty much been the state of affairs in our house with Justin since the spring, when a succession of illnesses felled him and the OCD component of his autism came back in raging force. This scenario was particularly difficult for us to adjust to given that we’d spent a few months in what we liked to call “Camelot”, a period in which both boys were usually sleeping through the night (my favorite part), Justin had almost completely quelled his aggressions, and my youngest had made so much progress one of my best friends mock-accused me of faking his autism to make my book longer.

Yes, he’s really autistic. Yes, I have the report to prove it. And yes, we’re still friends.

We knew immediately that the compulsive aspects of Justin’s disorder were back in full form because he unfortunately began exhibiting those frustrating body tics again, the ones in which he shakes his head back and forth so hard I can only imagine whiplash would be a gentler outcome. This time they only lasted for a few weeks, a boon for which both me and his father were grateful. We’ve tried several different medications over the years and dabbled in the world of biomedical alternatives, but after our son has suffered through high fevers, these tics always seem to be the remaining unwelcome guests in our house.

Autism is just such good fun.

To be perfectly honest, I was so grateful to see the swaying leave so relatively quickly that I failed to really notice how a few other unpalatable activities were left in their place, such as the need to tear to shreds anything imperfect within a five-mile radius (hence why my pediatrician removed her remaining wallpaper and painted her waiting room pastel pink and blue), as well as my son’s desire to leave any location outside of his home in under thirty minutes. We subsequently sailed into summer which is always our best season here, and got caught up in a last-minute switcheroo of schools for my oldest, in which the inherent drama of the change took us well into September. As I’ve mentioned before, this has been a REALLY good year for all of us, and so I chose for a time to focus on the positive and ignore for a few months that my son has become “Captain Destructo”, and an episode of “Cake Boss” (yum!) lasts longer than any of our outings.

Denial is a wide, wide, river.

Throughout early fall the realization that these issues have not improved has finally caught up with me, and I acknowledged to myself it was time to exit Shangri-La (okay, OUR version of idyllic) and get back on the ABA horse and ride. I also admitted to myself that part of my reluctance in trying to “fix it” revolved around the fact that I’ve been at this for seven years, at times have handled the majority of his behaviors on my own, and I’m just damn tired.

Thankfully, “Miss M” has come to our rescue.

One of the benefits of my son attending his new school is that they have several Board Certified Behavior Analysts in residence, all of whom actually make house calls. On the day they accepted him I put our names on the waiting list, hopeful that we could at least minimize these two issues that were still plaguing us almost daily. Within two months we rose to the top of the list, and “Miss M” made her appearance at our home for her “get-to-know” you session. She was able to leave me with advice on Justin’s first issue immediately, namely the destruction of any paper or plastic product that offended his eye, and I quickly implemented her counsel.

I realized that intellectually I knew what to do with him to reduce this behavior, but I’d been hung up on the fact that due to laundry/”cooking”/potty training/keeping the second child alive I hadn’t always been able to confront him immediately after he altered something, and that had kept me from making him fix things. Once “Miss M” assured me that the important factor was to force him to repair whatever he destroyed, make said repairs highly annoying (I’m good at that part), and stick to my guns even if the renovations took place six hours later, I knew what to do. I’m happy to say we’ve seen a lessening of destruction, a fact which probably saddens Zachary because he LOVED to tattle on him.

Autism or not, they’re still brothers.

His second and most daunting issue, his desire to leave the premises in the amount of time it takes to watch a sitcom, will be more difficult to handle, but “Miss M” is confident. I’ve shared with her that part of the problem is Justin’s outgrown many of the activities that made him so happy over the years, because although he’s autistic, cognitively and developmentally he’s often peer-appropriate. Frankly, the museums for kids under six and most local playgrounds just aren’t doing it for him anymore. He would kindly prefer to go to Great Adventure every day, and if I’d let him, frequent the section of terrifying roller coasters I refer to as the place where mommy will undoubtedly stroke out. When it comes to adventure, this kid shows no fear.

So, in an effort to discover some new activities that Justin can do when he’s both seven and seventy that won’t kill his mother, we’re decided to give bowling a shot, and we’ll be implementing a timer to show him he’s not allowed to leave after just two frames. I’m eager to see how this event will go, given that we’ve attempted this type of field trip once before when he was five. That day I spent the better part of his classmate’s birthday party chasing him around from pinball machine to pinball machine, all in a desperate attempt to keep him there long enough to sing happy birthday to his friend and eat some cake.

Hell, I had it on good authority it was chocolate with REAL buttercream frosting. Hyperactivity be damned, this girl was going to have her cake AND it eat too.

We’re trying the bowling lanes mid-week, and I just have to say that I’m so appreciative that someone else will be there with me to do the literal heavy lifting, as I’m certain Justin will find this activity as entertaining as the teeth cleaning where mommy forgot his favorite videos (yes, that has actually happened). I’ll let you all know how it goes, wish us well.

And I promise, no matter what happens, no jokes about striking out.